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Volleyball: Legacy builds

Local club opens new facility to accommodate growing interest

Posted: March 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Adela Martinez, 12, practices her serve with the Legacy Volleyball Club's 13-1 team in the 19,000-square-foot Legacy Volleyball facility in Valencia on Friday.

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Even for the most casual of volleyball fans, it’s enough to impress.

But only a fanatic would be excited about details like 33-foot tall ceilings, and the nearly brand-new blue and gray Sport Court material that lines the playing surface of the four Olympic-size volleyball courts.

Each court is separated by professionally installed netting, and each one has ample space behind it — ideal for serving — while white boards are painted on the wall next to all the courts for teaching purposes.

Fortunately, fanatics who would notice all that represent most of the people who will utilize the new 19,000-square-foot home for Legacy Volleyball Club in Valencia.

Legacy’s founder, Walt Ker, is a former UCLA, Cal State Northridge and Valencia High volleyball head coach. He’s both the brains and the money behind the new facility, which opened its doors on Feb. 28.

Ker, 57, started Legacy in 2008, but until two weeks ago he ran the club out of Velocity Sports Performance just down the road from the new gym.

“We’ve always had a first-class operation,” Ker said. “Now we have a first-class facility to go with it.”

At Velocity, the club had to share space with basketball, baseball and other sports. The new digs are exclusively for the volleyball club, which houses 14 girls teams and five boys teams.

“We’re really excited about the youth movement, so we’re trying to get younger and younger kids in here,” Ker said of the teams, which range from 10 to 18 years old and feature varying degrees of competitiveness.

With more than three decades of volleyball coaching experience, three NCAA Division II women’s national titles as head coach at CSUN and first-ever head coach of his newly created men’s volleyball program at the school in 1976, Ker knew exactly what he wanted in the new place.

And he made it happen down to the last detail, giving in to what has become a highly demanded sport in this valley.

“Football and basketball have always been big, so it was just one more thing,” said Walt’s oldest son Tony, a 2004 Valencia High graduate. “There are a lot of athletic people in the Santa Clarita Valley and they are all really active, and (volleyball) is just one more sport they can play.”

Also a 2008 graduate of UCLA, Tony earned First-Team All-America honors in his junior and senior years playing volleyball for the Bruins. In his sophomore year, he played for the 2006 NCAA championship team.

Before that, he helped take Valencia’s boys volleyball program to new heights, earning CIF-Southern Section Division II Player of the Year honors in his junior and senior seasons, during which the team won a pair of Division II titles.

The father-son tandem takes part in coaching the 18-year-old elite boys team at Legacy, but Tony handles most of the day-to-day administrative duties of the club itself.

Walt works in the mortgage business by day.

His other two sons, Kevin and Jamey, also coach teams at Legacy, given their experience with the sport. Following the family pattern, both also played at Valencia and UCLA. Kevin graduated from UCLA in 2010 and Jamey is currently a redshirt sophomore.

The three of them make up some of the roughly 30 coaches employed at Legacy.

Walt hopes to pass on the family business entirely to his three sons some day.

“I know it’s his dream,” said Brandon Park, head coach of Legacy’s 18-1 girls team. “Even though it’s his little masterpiece, it’s affected so many people in so many positive ways.”

Employees, players and parents all have their own reasons for liking the new facility, though.

There’s the parent’s lounge, complete with a view of the courts, lawn chairs and umbrellas, which have given it the affectionate nickname “Legacy Beach.”

Then there’s the coach’s lounge, which has couches, white boards, a homework station and a trophy case which holds a photo John Wooden, the late Hall of Fame UCLA coach. Next to the photo is a framed, autographed display of Wooden’s famed pyramid of success.

Much of Wooden’s coaching philosophies are incorporated into Legacy’s teachings and many of his more famous quotes can be found on display in some form around the gym.

On the way out toward the back parking lot, one Wooden-esque phrase is painted on the wall reading, “What Legacy Will You Leave?”

For Walt Ker, it seems that question has already been answered.


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